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Mary Cheney

 (1871 - 1957)
Mary Moulton Cheney was active/lived in Minnesota, Massachusetts.  Mary Cheney is known for printmaking, design, teaching, hand-bound books.

Mary Cheney

Biography from the Archives of askART

Mary Moulton Cheney was a prolific and influential Minneapolis artist and educator in the early part of the 20th century. She was born in 1871, daughter of Isaac Cheney, head millwright for the Washburn, Crosby Milling Company in Minneapolis. She graduated from the College of Science, Literature, and Arts at the University of Minnesota and the design department at the Boston Museum School of Art. She also studied painting under George Elmer Browne in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Cheney educated many others on art in turn, organizing the first class in design at the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts in 1897, eventually becoming the principal of the design department, then Dean of Women, and finally Director of the school from 1917 to 1925. This school would become the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). She also taught at Camp Danworthy during the summer, leading the Mary Moulton Cheney Art Colony for young women.

Cheney was also involved in community organizations including The Woman's Club and the Minneapolis Business Women's Club, serving as president for the later in from 1922 to 1924.

The archive collection of her work at the Hennepin County Library reflects primarily Cheney's own work as an artist and entrepreneur, specifically in printmaking. Cheney owned and operated a printmaking shop, The Artcraft Shop: Sign of the Bay Tree, from 1897 to 1917. With the help of Mary Marsh Smith, who did the bookkeeping for the shop, she produced richly detailed and delicately colored hand-bound books, book plates, greeting cards, calendars, and other printed material. She and Smith also published fine press books in the same shop as the Chemith Press, beginning in 1902.

Description of Collection
6 boxes, primarily of Cheney's artwork, including book plates, insignia designs for local groups and printers, loose prints from the Artcraft Shop, insignias designed for local printers, a guest book, a fine press printing of Chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians designed by Cheney, two sample books of work done by Cheney and available for sale in her store, and pencil sketches. Also includes information sheet and clippings files on Mary Moulton Cheney, pieces written by Cheney on the subject of art study including the pamphlet "Shall I Study Art?" and a pamphlet on the Camp Danworthy Art Colony, and photographs of Cheney.

"Mary Moulton Cheney Collection M/A 1998", Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis,,%20Mary%20Moulton (Accessed 5/6/2013)

Biography from the Archives of askART
Director of the Minneapolis School of Art from 1917 to 1926, Mary Cheney was a painter, teacher and designer.  Her art studies included the University of Minnesota and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School.  Teachers were Denman Ross and George Elmer Browne.  She exhibited her work at the Minnesota State Fair in 1917.

In Minneapolis, she had a design business, The Artcraft Shop, and as a result of her design work is regarded as one of the pioneers of in America of designing greeting cards. She was also one of the founding members of the Handicraft Guild of Minneapolis, which she later served as a Guild educator.

Her archived papers at the Minnesota Historical Society have sketches by her that include bookplates, greeting cards, stationery, stained glass windows and andirons.

Cheney also did Memorial Panels for West High School in Minneapolis, a project sponsored by the Keewaydin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  The school closed in 1982.

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art
Michael Conforti, Minnesota 1900: Art and Life on the Upper Mississippi, 1890-1915
Diana Myers, Information on Memorial Panels

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About  Mary Cheney

Born:  1871 - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died:   1957
Known for:  printmaking, design, teaching, hand-bound books